Penny and Callie Giaccone – 2013

At the beginning of July, I travelled to Ghana with my mom for the 4th time. My mom and I volunteered at the Kathy Knowles libraries throughout Accra. This summer in particular we worked at the head library in Osu.

The first week I was working with my mom. It was quite fun to teach children of all ages, even adults! The second week I got my own class- kindergarten. We’re not talking your typical North American Kindergarten class. No, no this class was ages 3-12, and some barely knew English. Since my Ghanaian dialect was a little rusty, I had to make do with lots of actions and speaking very clearly. I also had to improvise because I had a week to do activities with these young active and antsy children with limited materials.

I worked at Dovercourt camp in Ottawa; so working with children wasn’t the issue. After an hour I really got the hang of what to do. I knew all their names, even the very foreign ones that were hard to pronounce, and that is the first step to anything. Once I learned that they were too young to study the life cycle of a caterpillar, and that it was probably better to draw them caterpillars to color in, things were rolling. I pulled out as many camp games from under my sleeve, as well as many fun songs that they loved. By the end I had 12 new best friends.

A particular moment sticks out in my mind quite clearly. I had just explained a game called Rhythm Master. The rules of this game are that there is a detective that leaves the circle, and I pick one quiet person to be the rhythm leader. Then we yell “come back, come back” and the detective comes to the middle of the circle. The rhythm leader begins making a pattern, like clapping their hands or stomping their feet and everyone must follow. The object of the game is to make sure the detective doesn’t guess who the rhythm leader is. Pretty simple. So we started planning this game and it was flowing quite nicely.

It was near the end of the day and I thought this was going to be a great quiet end to the day. My friend Dave, a regular at the library, was the rhythm master. He’s five years old and a very bright boy. He was leading the game quite well, clapping his hands together, then his thighs, then his chest, but all of a sudden the power got to him. They were following him and he knew that was his chance. He started to scream. Not your average scream, this was at the very top of his lungs. I didn’t know what to do. Everyone was of course following the rhythm leader and screaming as well. Wow. Dave continued by running around and now all my students were screaming like maniacs. It took about 5 very loud minutes to calm everyone down. This story always makes me smile. Even half way across the world, there is the same sneakiness and trouble you can expect in a child.